Kincaid lives!!! …for a few minutes

the back lot murders 2002

THE BACK LOT MURDERS

2.5 Stars  2002/91m

“The stage is set…”

Director/Writer: David DeFalco / Writers: Paul Arensburg, Steven Jay Bernheim / Cast: Priscilla Barnes, Charles Fleischer, Jaime Anstead, Brian Gaskill, Corey Haim, Lisa Brucker, Carrie Stevens, Heather Tindell, Dayton Knoll, Lori Dawn Messuri, Ken Sagoes, Alejandro Escos, Tom Hallick, Angela Little, Nancy O’Brien, David Solomini.

Body Count: 17

Laughter Lines: “You have assets: Use your ass and your sets.”


This production is a mess, but it’s an occasionally entertaining mess with some amusing lines – largely courtesy of Charles Fleischer as the put-upon director – and an interesting backdrop for the carnage to take place against. Mild spoilers ensue.

Your off-the-shelf horror movie rock band are about to hit it big and are shooting their debut video on a Hollywood studio back lot where The Lost World: Jurassic Park was filmed. Six months earlier, they fired their temperamental songwriter after he smashed a bottle over a barmaid’s head – will that have any bearing on what’s to come?

Also on set is the lead singer’s bimbo girlfriend Janey, whose father runs the label they’ve signed to, and bitchy PR woman Stephanie, who wants the video to be cutting edge – so much that she’s willing to cut a few other things in order to see that goal realised?

back lot murders 2002 ken sagoes

Well somebody seems hell bent on making it a video to remember, starting with a couple of special effects folks (this is one slasher flick where the black guy – Sagoes who was Kincaid in two mid-Elm Street sequels – does die first – ironically he first to die in The Dream Master as well!), and filming each slaying by camcorder.

As numbers dwindle, highly-strung, campy director Henry deals with an endless parade of morons trying to get on screen: “Wow you’re an actress? In Los Angeles? How unusual.” But the rest of the film is expanded by long dull scenes of couples exploring buildings and the Elvis-masked killer not showing up soon enough. As usual, the scantily clad babes all flash their boobs before being chased away after their boyfriend is stabbed in the back.

Dim-witted Janey is somehow nominated to be the heroine, despite the film offering up a couple of other viable options earlier on (Henry’s assistant, who I think survives by leaving, and Wendy the fog lady), leaving us without a strong heroine figure to root for, just about the only remaining girl not to take her top off.

back lot murders 2002

The late Corey Haim’s comparable bit-part would go unnoticed if you – like me – didn’t recognise him. Barnes, however, is great in her sub-Betsy Palmer turn. Despite the curiosity of the Psycho house and a few other set pieces, this is one production probably better left in the lot – especially if you happen to watch the DVD featurette where the director claims it’s a “thinking man’s horror movie”. Right.

Blurbs-of-interest: Barnes was in Stepfather III; Fleischer was the dream doctor in the original Elm Street and was also in Chain Letter.

Christmas. In August.

secret santa 2015

SECRET SANTA

2.5 Stars  2015/78m

“Open a box. Leave in a bag.”

Director/Writer: Mikey McMurran / Cast: Annette Wozniak, Geoff Almond, Keegan Chambers, Brent Baird, Nicole Kawalez, Tony Nash, Matthew Chisholm, Astrida Auza, Alexandra Simpson.

Body Count: 11

Laughter Lines: “You seem like a good person, please don’t do this.” / “On the contrary, I’m a psychopathic killer… with a knack for body dismemberment.”


I should take a certain amount of responsibility for this picture as I donated to the Kickstarter campaign that funded it. Look, my name is in the credits!:

secret santa 2015

Anyway, shot for a mere $6,000 CAD and garnished with that grainy 80s VHS look (but still including iPhones n’ shit…), Secret Santa is another of those back-to-basics productions.

A group of students taking some pre-Christmas holidays exams gather together for a festive party and, during the titular exchange, unwrap an array of weaponry ranging from a meatcleaver, through garden shears, hairdryer, and electric carving knife. “I didn’t get you that!” they caw, and we’ve already figured out that each gift represents the method of dispatch for its recipient.

Even at 78 minutes, it takes some time to get to the party, via the obligatory opening murder (the girl who takes a shower, obvs), exam stress, heroine Nicole’s guilt over how she’s earning money to pay her student debts, her boyfriend cheating with the nominal easy-lay, and some bizarre subplot about one of them being on drugs or something? I honestly didn’t understand his deal.

secret santa 2015

Secret Santa dances a line between adding comical lines and references and outright parody. A couple of moments are genuinely good, like the killer attempting to toss the hairdryer into a bath but the cord coming out of the socket, and the two-hour exposition from the killer, once unmasked.

The identity of the fiend is the ace up the sleeve here, although in many ways it makes next to no sense and signposts the departure from horror to comedy, but there’s something almost genial about the reveal, which reminded me of Slaughter Studios.

Hopefully the film will shift enough to finance a future, higher-budgeted project, because there’s definitely a talent at play there.

Sexyvil

american psycho 2 all american girl mila kunis 2002

AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL

2 Stars  2002/18/85m

“Angrier. Deadlier. Sexier.”

Director: Morgan J. Freeman / Writers: Alex Sanger & Karen Craig / Cast: Mila Kunis, William Shatner, Geraint Wyn-Davies, Lindy Booth, Robin Dunne, Charles Officer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’ll make sure to get you home in time for Murder She Wrote.”


Burgeoning starlet Mila Kunis is apparently not fond of her involvement in this bizarre sequel to Mary Harron’s adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel. Where that film examined the vicious world of capitalism, where male swagger competing eventually spills over into serial murder, AS2 is a straight up slasher flick.

Kunis is college freshman Rachael, whose babysitter took her along on a date with psycho killer Patrick Bateman and became his last victim before Rachael stabbed him dead with an ice pick. Undetected in this incident, Rachael successfully gets on to a criminal profiling course run by ex-FBI officer Robert Starkman (Shatner) whose one career black spot is the Bateman case.

In the week before Spring Break, Starkman is set to elect a teaching assistant for the following semester, and there’s no task Rachael won’t undertake to ensure she gets the job, which will lead her to her destiny – FBI training at Quantico. Firstly, her goal entails offing the three most likely contenders: Rich boy Brian, roommate Cassandra, and brainy Keith. Matters are further complicated by her interfering shrink who, after one session, diagnoses her as a ‘textbook sociopath’ and Rachael finds herself killing excess individuals to get her own way.

Sanger and Craig’s script shares more in common with the likes of Ripper: Letter From Hell and obsessed-femme-stalker sequel Teacher’s Pet than its predecessor. Kunis is a good soap opera style bad girl, but her narration of events severely tugs at the rug of credibility, and without the killings this would play more like an episode of Clarissa Explains It All than a serial-slasher pic.

Handsome production values go some way to distracting the viewer from what is really a wafer thin cash-in, probably rewritten to awkwardly tie in with the Bateman plot in order to get the greenlight. Still, seeing William Shatner traumatised is good for a laugh.

Blurbs-of-interest: Shatner was in Visiting Hours back in 1981; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and the lead role in Cry_Wolf; Robin Dunne was in Scarecrow.

 

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